It was exactly at noon when Paul had sat down at the reception area of his therapist’s private clinic. Therapy was not cheap, but what could Paul Sheppard do? He was 30-something years old with curly short hair, pale skin and eyes that resembled blueberries. So to speak, he was living in an apartment that had not been cleaned for years. He lived alone, no spouse, girlfriend, or roommates. Paul wasn’t antisocial by any means, he just doesn’t trust people as much as he wishes. Maybe it was the fact that when he was just a young boy, his mother was beaten with a baseball bat and then stabbed to death, inside their home, while poor, defenseless Paul was knocked unconscious during the whole event. It was around midnight when there was a knock on the door. Paul’s father, Grant Sheppard was due home late, so when the knock on the door reached Paul’s ear, he quickly ran to open it thinking of his loving father and how he couldn’t wait to play baseball with him the next morning, he had even placed all the equipments neatly near the entrance door, as a reminder for his father. For his surprise, it was not Grant, but rather a masked figure. May a help you? Asked Paul. The masked figure did not speak. Paul thought to himself, is it Halloween? But as the calendar in the living room suggested, it was no where near October. As he turned his head back to face the masked figure, he was knocked down to the floor with a big fist. He blacked out. His eyes slowly opened and the image of horror began to form inside his head. He was lying in the sofa. How did I get here? He wondered. There was blood everywhere. On top of the sofa, where he had been put, on the curtains, hanging high up the walls and on the floor, where he could see foot prints all over a pool of blood. He was six years old when terror hit home. He slowly got his shaking self up, and even slower walked to the kitchen, where the bloody foot prints led. As he reached the kitchen, it was all dark. Darkness filled the child’s eyes, only light would let him see what was right in front of him. He entered the room, walked over to the light switch and stood there. His feet were stick from all the blood splattered on the floor. He closed his eyes and counted to five. A strategy Grant had taught him. One, inhaled Paul, two, exhaled, he got really nervous, his hands were now shaking. Three, inhaled, four, exhaled. He stopped, he let out a cry and asked, mom? Five, he inhaled. He held his breath and flicked the light switch on. His eyes were still closed. Through his eyelids, he could see a little brighter, reddish, but the thought of actually opening his eyes and seeing the whole picture, scared him. For a six year old, he had thought of plenty of horrible images that could be right in front of him in that particular moment. Where had those images come from? He didn’t know, maybe from all those horror movies he watched with dad late nights? Finally he gave in, exhaled the long held breath and opened his eyes. His jaw quickly dropped. His mother was lying on the floor, her eyes wide open staring at his face. Mom called out Paul. Her bloody self did not speak, did not move, didn’t even blink, which was enough to let Paul know that his beloved mother was dead. He ran back to the living room, picked up the phone and dialed 911, as his deceased mother had always taught him if there was any emergency. Next, he dialed dad’s cell phone, but no answer. Many times he tried, but many times he also failed. When Grant finally got home, police officers and paramedics were making camp. That day was forever marked on Grant’s and Paul’s calendars. The person they loved the most had died, brutally and mercilessly. Exactly a week later, on the one week anniversary of his mother’s death, was also marked on Paul’s calendar as the day Grant had become an alcoholic. From there on, Paul grew to become that lonely boy in class that no one even dares to speak with him because he was just plain weird. This incident caused Paul to choose very carefully who he would associate with. This is how he came to be friendless, for relationships are built in trust, and since he no longer had the ability to trust, he was bound to be lonely. As he grew older, he began to think that being like this, was not the way to live. So he decided to put a stop to it and live life to the fullest. He tried plenty of times actually. Asking a girl out, making pointless conversations with co-workers, talking with random people on the streets, all the things desperate lonely people do. But none had a positive outcome that led to something greater. So all he had left was therapy. He wants to find desperately what is wrong with him. Well, he knows what is wrong, he just does not know how to fix it. There had to be a solution to his problem. He looked around the clinic, noticing all the details that had passed by his eyes every time he had been there. The beautiful painting, the magnificent flower arrangement, all the things that humans just lo longer appreciates. His mind and eyes were caught in their beauty, as Brenda, the therapy’s assistant, called out his name. Paul? Are you ok? Yes, I’m fine, thank you. Just making sure! She smiled and laughed. Paul had gotten the joke, but yet he did not laugh. He was too shy in her presence, which stopped him from making any body movements when waiting for his appointment. Brenda was a beautiful brunet with straight, long black hair, beautiful blue eyes and skin white as milk. She was the type of women who caught men’s attention from blocks away. But what Paul saw in her, was not her hair, her eyes, or her skin completion, but her kindness. Paul had appointments with Dr. Smith every Mondays at noon during his lunch brake, which lasted for one hour. He had noticed that every time he had been present in the clinic, Brenda was always talking with other patients, making sure they were comfortable and just being the best at her job. The one time, it was around the period he was beginning to fancy Brenda, he witnessed her humanity towards others. A seventeen year old boy had an appointment before Paul on a particular Monday. Dr. Smith was really behind with his schedule, so it would take more than half an hour for Dr. Smith to attend to the boy’s needs. He had self inflicted cuts all over his arms and legs, a black eye and a bruised neck, one would wonder if the boy had just come from war. But we all know that the war he was fighting was not the one between countries and continents, but the enemy we all face everyday, life. The boy shook his legs rapidly and impatiently. His finger tips were all bloody from all the baiting of his dead skin surrounding his fingernails, he was in a terrible condition. Something in his mind was troubling him badly. He got up and went to the bathroom. Brenda had been watching the boy from her desk, just analyzing the situation before setting foot in front of the door and stopping it from slapping the boy in the face. She noticed that the boy was taking too long in the bathroom. She got nervous. She slowly walked over to the bathroom area. The boy’s cry could be heard half way along the corridor. Cries she was so accustomed to hear. As she reached the door, the boy inside, wiped his tears, washed his face and opened the door, confronting the person he had heard coming down the corridor. Why do you cry? Asked Brenda in the sweetest voice. It’s nothing, said the boy. It’s Kevin right? Yes. Kevin, I don’t know what problem you’re facing, but what I do know is that you are a smart and handsome young boy, you have a great future ahead of you, and you’re way too young to be full of problems like that, expressed Brenda. Kevin looked down on the floor and began to cry. Brenda had not known why, she felt clueless, as much as she asked him, the less he opened up. Kevin of course did know, but for the life of him, he was too shameful to say. But all did not matter to her at that moment. All that really mattered was the young man’s needs for affection. So she came closer to the boy and hugged him tightly. He just stood there with tears flowing down his cheeks like a waterfall. It was only after a while that Kevin accepted her hug. It’s ok son! Whispered Brenda in Kevin’s ear. Paul had gotten out of his seat and he had witnessed the whole event. Since that day, he felt that Brenda was the person that was missing from his life. Paul saw himself as Kevin and how much he needed her to hug him and tell him it will all be ok. Never again was Kevin seen, Brenda knew that she didn’t change his life, but at least she tried, which gave her a lot of pride. In ten minutes time, it would make Paul’s appointment half an hour late. Paul looked in her direction, and with much courage, asked, How about that earthquake today? It was horrible, I so was afraid, I had never experienced one, I mean, Boston doesn’t have earthquakes every month like California does, so I was really scared! Said Brenda. The worse part of it is that it happened when many were sleeping, Paul replied. I just can’t stop thinking of all the people that died, I heard on the news that there are a total of fifteen dead and ten injured, said Brenda. That’s terrible, thank god it didn’t last long, because if it did, a lot more would be dead right now. I know, replied Brenda. Paul, whenever too nervous, he would rub his hand on a scar he had on his left palm, one that he got years ago, but left its mark forever, another thing that he would do is change the topic completely, so he began. Where is Dr. Smith? He’s inside having lunch. Doesn’t he usually have it at 11:30 so he can see me at 12? Yes, but he’s been really down lately, his brother was in a car accident yesterday and on top of that, one of his patients passed away this morning when the earthquake hit. So you can imagine how he feels. I definitely can, replied Paul with sympathy. The phone beeped, Brenda picked up, ok, she said to the phone, and placed it down and looked at Paul. He is ready to see you now. Thank you. Sorry that you had to wait for so long, added Brenda. Paul got up from the seat and walked over to the next room where Dr. Smith awaited his presence. Dr. Smith was sitting down on his chair looking at a frame that had a picture of a woman. She smiled happily towards Dr. Brian, whose face only expressed sadness. Why? He asked the woman in the picture. The room was dim. The curtains were navy blue, which gave the room a dark tone. It was also an empty room. It only held a computer desk and a chair, two file cabinets, a sofa and a big vase with a beautiful coconut plant. Even with its dark tone, the room was beautifully designed. The walls were milky white, with the desk and file cabinets matching the curtains. The plant is the only thing that doesn’t really fit in the room, but that’s what makes it gorgeous. The sofa and chair were black along with the vase that held the coconut plant. As Paul entered the room, he had heard Dr. Brian’s low voice and he asked, what? Oh, I wasn’t talking with you, sorry. Talking with your self now? What kind of therapist is crazier than his own patients? Paul noticed that Brian did not laugh at his joke, so his face turned from smile to frown. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. It’s fine, don’t worry. Brenda told me that you’re brother was in a car accident, is he ok? I don’t know, slowly replied Dr. Smith. Paul didn’t understand his response, but didn’t bother to go deeper into the subject. And I’m also sorry about your patient. Thank you, but can we stop talking about me and focus on you! Sure, said Paul, noticing Dr. Smith’s change of tone. So, how was your week? It was ok. Nothing really thrilling happened! Is that good or bad? I don’t know, I just feel like my life is too boring. Why do you think your life is boring? Because nothing really happens, I get up, go to work, come home, eat, take a shower and go to sleep, then, I do it all over. Isn’t that what everybody else does? Yes, but still, they have spouses and kids and pets to go home to. I don’t have anyone, not even friends to talk with! Whose fault is that? Mostly mine, I know, but, Paul could finish the sentence, he felt stuck. I can conclude from all your visits that you don’t really trust people, Look at us, you have been coming here for months now and you still can’t freely speak of what happened in your last week, because I know more than that happened. Dr. Smith was tired of lying to himself and Paul, so he decided to come out with it, the fact that he knew more about Paul than Paul gave him credit. Is it because of what happened to your mother? Paul did not speak. He looked at Brian’s face furiously, how do you know about her? Who told you? Tell me now! Screamed Paul. He had suddenly turned into a whole different person right before Dr. Smith’s eyes. You better tell me right now! Paul started to look around the room, he looked behind the couch, and he pushed the two curtains close, afraid of being spied on. I have your medical record and your criminal history inside your file, shouted Dr. Smith, scared by Paul’s reaction. No you don’t! You’re working for him, aren’t you? He finally found me and you helped him. Paul grabbed a stapler and threw it towards Dr. Smith, who was highly confused and scared, for Paul never acted like that before. Stop it, I’m not working against you, I’m here to help you. All the information I have I got from the file. On it, it talks about your mother’s death. Oh. He’s face slowly turned back to its pale color from the chili pepper it had turned into. Why did you get so upset Paul? Who’s after you? Are you still hunted by her death? Paul’s eyes turned watery, Dr. Smith had finally found the X that marked the spot, he had discovered Paul’s weakness. I have told myself to erase that day from my memory, but the harder I try to forget it, the more it invades my thoughts, cried Paul. In the file, it tells me what happened to your mother, but in it, does tell me what happened to you, so tell me, what happened that day? I was my fault. Why was it your fault? She had told me so many times never to open the door without asking who it was. But that day, I didn’t listen. I was so anxious to see my father that I opened the door without even thinking who it could be. It’s because of me that she is dead. Don’t blame yourself for such a malicious crime. The only one to blame is the person whose cold heart killed your mother. You were a child who did not listen. But we both know children never listen to their parents. Tell me if I’m wrong…I think it is because of this incident that you have stopped trusting people, stopped letting them into your home and life. Paul just nodded up and down giving the gesture that Dr. Smith was right. Now, what we are going to do is change that. From now on, you will start to trust people, inviting a co-worker to have a drink, something like that. I’ll try my best, but I don’t think I can do it. Everyone can, they just don’t try hard enough. So, don’t say you will try, because I know what that means. So, what do you say? I’ll do it, said Paul happily. The phone ringed, Dr. Smith picked up. It was Brenda, she informed him there was someone waiting to see him and they said it was urgent. Thank you, he hanged up the phone, stood up, walked over to Paul and shook his hand. Do you promise me? Yes, I promise, then get out there and do it. Paul stood up, took a deep breath and walked towards the door. As he reached the door, he looked back at Dr. Smith, who did not expect Paul to look back at all. He had opened back the curtains and looked out at the horizon with watery eyes. Dr. Smith? He quickly wiped it off and acted like Paul had not seen a thing. What? I have something to tell you. What is it? Now that I feel more open with you, I fell as though I own it to you. Paul walked over to Dr. Smith and whispered it. Dr. Smith stood silently for a moment. He looked at Paul, Why do you say such a lie? Iâ€˜m not lying! I’m speechless right now, I can’t believe you’re doing this. I knew this was a bad idea, I shouldn’t have trusted you! You probably think I’m crazy. Paul ran to the door, Wait, come back here, shouted Dr. Smith. As the door was closing, a woman walked in and slammed the door shut, she looked angrier than Paul.
September 4, 2008